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Active Lifestyle Is Key in Alzheimer's Prevention

  [ 191 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Alzheimer Support Staff • • May 8, 2000

A study provides evidence that those who are physically and mentally active in midlife may have a greater chance of eluding the onset of Alzheimer's disease later in life. Study participants without Alzheimer's disease were reported to have been more active between the ages of 40 and 60 than were those with Alzheimer's. Factors such as economic and educational background did not seem to be related to Alzheimer's incidence as once thought.

Those who remain active both physically and mentally in middle age may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease. This information was released at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April.

According to experts, individuals who engage in recreational activity outside of work are at lower risk for contracting the disease. The types of activities mentioned include physical exercise, board games and playing a musical instrument.

Dr. Robert Friedland, a neurologist at Case Western University School of Medicine and the study's author, stated that people who engage in minimal physical activity are at least three times more likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

The study monitored degrees of activity beginning five years prior to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Participants answered questionnaires regarding mental, physical and passive activity. Examples of mental exertion included painting and reading. Sports and gardening were considered physical activity while social interaction and churchgoing were listed as passive. The study was composed of 193 people with Alzheimer's disease and 358 without.

The participants without Alzheimer's disease were reported to have been more active between the ages of 40 and 60 than were those with Alzheimer's. These results held true regardless of discrepancies in age, gender, economic status and education.

Dr. Friedland stated that intellectual activity in early adulthood to middle age plays a key role in decreasing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease later on.

Previously, research had linked Alzheimer's disease to less active individuals with low educational and occupational status. The more recent findings discount occupational and educational factors and suggest that an active lifestyle is the key.

Experts stated that physical and mental activity are important in keeping healthy and that passive activity should not be thought to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

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